Wuthering Heights Wins by a Knock-Out

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read this novel, how many strips of myself I’ve lost to it. I’d just watched “Southpaw,” too, which is basically about Jake Gyllenhaal gettin all up in the guts of what it means to be a man—and he was as believable as hell, love anything JG does, but there was that little problem of Rachel McAdams’s character gettin all caught up in the cross-fire of men getting all up in dem guts of what it means to be a man. A little problem easily solved by a stray gunshot —which never really got satisfactorily resolved in the film—because as one male who I talked to pointed out—the stray bullet (or was it?) that killed the woman in the way, “wasn’t really part of the plot”. The plot was that her death left the ring free for the main event: two messed-up dudes leading each other to bloody and violent redemption.

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Wuthering Heights (1847) says no to such easy solace, follows that stray bullet right to its source.

‘You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff! And you both come to bewail the deed to me, as if you were the people to be pitied! I shall not pity you, not I. You have killed me—and thriven on it, I think. How strong you are! How many years do you mean to live after I am gone?

Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he attempted to rise, but she seized his hair, and kept him down.
‘I wish I could hold you,’ she continued bitterly, ’till we were both dead. I shouldn’t care what you suffered. I care nothing for your suffering. Why shouldn’t you suffer. I do!’

Them’s fighting words, and Wuthering Heights wins by a knockout, IMO.

‘I met a woman’: Tilda Swinton

I just read Emily Asher-Perrin’s review on Tor.com of a film I can’t wait for, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, with Tilda Swinton.

I have to say, I’ve been hooked on Swinton ever since seeing her in Lynn Hershman-Leeson’s Teknolust, one of my favorite films of that year (2002-2003)

I love this movie, as well as just about everything else she’s done (except maybe Young Adam, but partly because I just couldn’t get past Ewan McGregor’s dick shot, and that was maybe because I had just seen Chloe Sevigny’s gums wrapped around Vince Gallo’s bloated plums in Brown Bunny. So, that. Lots of schlongs in the noughties, not sure why, and as a film writer, I pretty much saw them all). So, Burn After Reading, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Moonrise Kingdom, Hotel Budapest and now Only Lovers Left Alive. Only lovers. Jim Jarmusch and Tilda Swinton. The vibe reminds me of The Hunger (1983), which we almost never remember was directed by the late great Tony Scott.

Breaking Bad is breaking my heart

Breaking Bad S5 P2. Just wow. Shakespeare on steroids. Aeschylus on acid. Dennis Lehane on a Gila monster riding bareback through the Chihuahuan desert. Don Quijote on crystal meth — blue the color of tears. Of sorrow. Of chemo. Of blood.

Hipster Hitler, and other furors.

01_ironic_invasionI was looking up some hipster stuff and I came across this. They do animations, too.

Me liking this got me thinking about Spike Lee’s recent comments about Django unchained, and how it disrespects his ancestors.

I guess what really bothers me about Lee’s comments is summed up in an incident at my work a couple of years ago. We were teaching an incendiary mix of Palestinian and Holocaust literature (don’t ask) to under-achieving freshman students, many of whom on this particular campus are from Middle Eastern backgrounds. Fortunately there were only one or two who expressed anti-semitic sentiments in their term papers, and these were dealt with by the university disciplinary committees. At a meeting, however, the course co-ordinator turned to the only one of us she knew was Jewish and apologized specifically to him.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘This must be upsetting to you.’

My colleague blanched and took a moment. ‘It must be upsetting to all of us,’ he said.

Heil, Hipster.

Cabin in the Woods, finally.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 12.45.29 PMSo I’m late to this film, but better late than never, and even with all the hype I wasn’t ready for its sucker punch, its fresh, raw take on story. For me, good horror is a showcase for story, the skin and bone of what makes us human. So here you have a story of five frisky teenagers alone in the woods where they’re preyed on by supernatural forces and you turn that into the story of what makes us in/human. Why that story is our sacrificial right/rite to the timeworn gods, those Big Giant Heads who keep us small in the universe, right where they can see us. And how between the Big Giant Heads, are some smaller, slicker heads who keep it all running smooth as a well-oiled machine gun, and how those small meaner heads try and drink or joke their own humanity into a space small enough to shoot through one of those plastic trash can hoops, but every so often that humanity rebounds on their asses and they end up gutted by it. Game over.
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So there they are, these five kids: the jock and the slut and the nerd and the fool/foil and um, the virgin. Except that its not just supernatural forces, on their own, well it is, and that, friends, is what makes this story scary as hell. Because in spite of all our human interference, in the end monsters are real, and the Virtual Reality, sci/fi set up here makes the monsters realer than ever. We’re not manipulating the monsters, we’re manipulating for the monsters because it’s not a game, no, it’s a goddam sacrifice folks. A sacrifice we make over and over again, every time we crowd into a cinema/onto a sofa to watch this ritual sacrifice of youth to age, life to death, blood calling to blood. To watch the night through a one way mirror and tell ourselves, really, even after all this time, that it’s not staring back.
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Why? It isn’t like Whedon and Goddard are saying, don’t. Hell no. This film fetishes every scene from Night of the Living Dead to Scream and with detours through Heathers, The Shining, Evil Dead, Hell Raiser and The Thing. Nods to the Norwegians, the Japanese, and British. To Carpenter, Cameron and Craven. Oh, and remember the Titans? Love your work. Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 12.48.47 PM
Because the show must go on. It really must. Or hell will break loose. No really. It will.
But maybe, you know, just maybe. It’s time. Except who are we to say? What hubris, what false pride. Because in the end, the gods we take are equal to the gods we make. And that can be funny as hell. There are yucks in this gore, and an absence of piety in direct proportion to the presence of heart. Fran Kranz is a knock-out as the not so gentle stoner whose bong is a travel mug one minute, a weapon of mass destruction the next. Love is the drug, but in the end, even that won’t cut it.Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 12.19.59 PM
Cabin asks more questions than it answers, which is what makes it a game changer. It asks more of story than any English language horror film that I can think of since Heathers. It asks more of the image—the actors are all impossibly beautiful and less stereotypical than allegorical. Dig: they’ve got heart. It asks more of scene. Blood runs down walls, monsters sweep across the screen like the invading hordes, hands reach out of graves, cellar doors fly open. And in the words of the fool, how exactly does that all make sense? Cabin asks that over and over. Every scene counts. Every scene asks sense of the one before and the one after. Like the flaky/creepy pump attendant who works for the man who puts him on speaker phone because it’s funny in the way cthulhu would be funny if he were on Speaker. We pick our poisons. We choose our monsters. Don’t check your brain at the door.